I wrote this in May of 2016 and, for whatever reason, I never actually posted it. It just sat in my drafts...until now. Because Joy is something worth sharing about. Enjoy!
"Oh!" I gasped as I looked down at the street from the second story window. "It's raining! Look how beautiful it makes the world!"
My friend laughed. "You're cute, you know that? Most people dislike rain."
Later, as we prayed, my friend said, "Thank you, Lord, for giving Yaasha such joy..."
And it hit me like a spray of sunlight through clouds. My joy was a gift.
It wasn't my temperament. It wasn't my natural optimism coming through (though I do have some of that). No, this joy was a gift that the Lord gave to me, a jewel that He had drawn from my pain.
I never wanted to be thrice a bridesmaid--twice in the wedding of a younger sister--and still not a bride.
I never wanted to be battling fears about my worth as a writer, the only thing I have ever longed to be.
I never wanted to live with constant pain and fatigue as part of a chronic illness that has lasted years.
The emotional and physical pain that God poured into my life have been so difficult that, at times, I have been buried alive.
...that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die... (1 Corinthians 15:36)
And in the grave of myself, the Lord let me give birth to something far dearer than I could have imagined: joy. When God sowed my dreams in the earth, the husk of my pride fell away from the core, and I am now reaping a hundred-fold in joys.
The last four years have been by far the most difficult in so many ways, but they have been the best years of my life. They are where I learned joy, and discovered that joy is only another word for the essence of my Beloved.
Every year, I look forward eagerly to the first day in the high 60s, sunny with a light breeze. I always sit outside and soak in it and drink the peace like water. This spring, that first day arrived when I was crippled with pain and the gentle sunlight was like stabbing fire in my eyes. Even the warmth of the breeze could not ward away the chill in my body. There was a day when I would have cried that I was missing something I love so much and I would have screamed at my weakness. But that day, I lay on my bed and thanked God for the little bit of breeze that fluttered through the window and brushed my cheek like a kiss. I did not feel that I missed anything. I was glad for a God who would send me such a beautiful day and such a clean window to see it through and such a comfortable bed, so that I could enjoy it all.
I wish I could explain what a complete reversal this mindset is from the mindset of earlier years. No one is born with this joy. It is a gift, given by the One who loves us more deeply than we could ever imagine.
These days, it is like I am living truly for the first time. I still feel pain, both physical and emotional, just as deeply as I did before. In fact, the pain is more intense now, for many reasons. But it does not destroy me.
We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.
The smallest joys delight me--a wildflower, rain on the window, my car not breaking down, shoes that feel comfortable, being able to walk up the stairs or across a room unassisted, a compliment on one of my stories, a meal with my family members all present and trading stories. The things I once took for granted I no longer overlook.
And the biggest joys, even the ones I cannot fully partake in, fill me with so much happiness--the birth of a new niece, the wedding of a friend or sister, the publication of my new book, the tears in a woman's eyes as she tells me that she has at last understood the love of Christ.
I do not care what my life brings. I expect suffering. I expect beauty too. But through it all, I want only this: For my joy to be so unshakable and contagious that those who see me will be drawn to Christ in me like captives to sunlight. I want to surprise others with Joy.
Joy is not a sensation, but a conviction; not a feeling, but a Man. And I intend to live for Joy.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your goodworks, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
None of my life has gone the way it was "supposed to go," but I don't love my life any less because of the hardships and new directions. I see so much unexpected good in it, and I want others to see the good in theirs.